The Prayer Begins

folded handsI am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me through their message. John17:20 (NLT)

Today’s post is short. It’s on purpose. This single statement of Jesus is profound—it’s worth pondering.  Nothing I can write enhances this amazing truth.

Jesus told His disciples about the events that would happen in the following days. Jesus would die as the sacrifice for all humanity; He would rise again and go back to the Father. In this moment, Jesus began the work He continues to this day—He is our intercessor. Jesus prayed for you and me.  Jesus prays for you and me.

Father, thank you for the gift of Your Son. Jesus, thank You for your love, compassion, and obedience. Thank you for thinking of me.

Image courtesy of Bing.com/images

To Serve and Protect

serve-and-protectMy prayer is not for the world, but for those You have given Me, because they belong to You.  All who are mine belong to You, and You have given them to Me, so they bring Me glory.  Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to You. Holy Father, You have given Me Your name; now protect them by the power of Your name so that they will be united just as we are.  During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name You gave Me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.

 Now I am coming to You. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them Your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.  They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by Your truth; teach them Your word, which is truth.  Just as You sent Me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by Your truth.  John 17:9-19 (NLT)

Don’t pray for an easy life—Pray to be strong.

I saw the rustic wood sign with the saying above painted on it hanging in shop where I was browsing. I wanted to rip it off the wall and stomp on it—but since I didn’t want to buy the sign I ignored it and left it hanging. I couldn’t really ignore it—the message burned in my mind. The thoughts swirled in my head—I’m strong enough—I’d rather simply have a break.

My first husband was terminally ill physically, with an added layer of mental illness that made my life painful and stressful. The words I would use to describe my life during those years: exhausting, frightening, emotional and hopeless. I prayed a lot. I got to the point that I stopped praying for Ron’s physical healing. I got to the place of just asking God to calm the emotional storm that raged in Ron’s mind and emotions.

It was a long decade. It seemed longer than 10 years. After Ron died, for a while I wondered what the purpose of all that suffering was, both for Ron and me. My spirit was exhausted. My heart was calloused. I was stronger but I was in need of some ease.

Time is a great perspective changer.

Jesus prays for His friends. It’s clear, Jesus is not offering them an easy life. Frankly, if I were in the upper room listening to this prayer, I’d be nervous. While I was here I protected them, but I’m leaving and I’m not asking for deliverance—just protection is what Jesus prays. It’s important to remember, the disciples didn’t have a Bible to read. They didn’t know how the story was going to end. Jesus’ words strike fear and dread in my heart. I can’t imagine what the disciples were thinking.

Jesus puts it out in the open—there is a distinct dichotomy in this world. The believer lives sandwiched between the world that is—one filled with insufficiency, fear and selfishness and the world God intended—one of plenty, peace and unity. Jesus knows the ache. Jesus understands the uneasiness of such a predicament. Jesus asks the Father to protect and for the strength to endure, but not for deliverance.

Why would an omnipotent God not simply deliver us from evil? It’s the same reason your teachers made you struggle to learn how to do math without a calculator. It’s the reason your parents struggled with you as you learned to tie your own shoes. It’s the reason athletes and musicians practice and rehearse—struggling leads to endurance and endurance leads to glory—if you don’t give up. There is an “other side” to struggles and suffering. Peter, who heard this prayer first hand, would later write about suffering, choice and endurance.

Jesus prays for protection for those He loves. Superficially, it’s scary, until you realize who is praying for you—and how far He’s willing to go to make sure you’re protected. Jesus sacrificed Himself so we can be made holy.

That’s strength. That’s protection. Now, endure.

Father, thank You for Your loving compassion. Jesus, thank You for Your sacrificial example. When I’m tired of living the life You’ve called me to help me endure. When it’s difficult to be Your follower, help me endure. When I’d rather give up or give in, help me endure. Thank You for the sacrifice that gives me protection and power.

Image courtesy of Bing.com/images

Knowing and KNOWING

do-i-know-youI have revealed You to the ones You gave me from this world. They were always Yours. You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they know that everything I have is a gift from You, for I have passed on to them the message You gave Me. They accepted it and know that I came from You, and they believe You sent Me.     John 17:6-8 (NLT)

It was Terry’s first birthday after we were married. We had been married 6 months. We had known each other for 7 months. After knowing Terry for 14 years, looking back, I see my miscalculation. I had the best birthday surprise planned. I reserved a hotel room, one with a Jacuzzi. I got some yummy treats to eat. The day of Terry’s birthday I left his birthday card on the table, propped up so he’d see it the minute he got home from work. Inside the card were his birthday instructions and the key to the room.

I sat at the hotel: waiting….waiting. Maybe he got home late from work. I ate a couple of grapes. I re-warmed the water in the Jacuzzi. He had to understand the instructions, I thought to myself. The card contained the instructions, which would lead Terry to the correct hotel and our room. No Terry. No call.

Finally, I called him. “Where are you?” he blurted out. I asked him if he had opened his card. He had not—he had seen it but was waiting for me to get home. I sighed and told him to open the card. I heard the envelope rip. Then I heard his confused tone. I know now, a night in a hotel in the town we live in is not really what Terry considers a great birthday gift.

The power of KNOWING—it’s astounding. I knew Terry when we got married—I KNOW him now. It makes a huge difference in our relationship.

Jesus shifts from praying about Himself to praying for His disciples. As He does, Jesus prays about knowing.

Knowing God—it sounds lofty and churchy. It sounds like a worthwhile pursuit. Be careful as you pursue knowing God. It is tragic when those who dedicate themselves to knowing God end up only knowing about Him. There’s a difference. You experience this phenomenon in relationships all the time.

Like you, I “know” many people. When I say that, what I really mean is, I recognize many people.   When pressed for meaningful information about a person I “know,” many times I have to admit that I only recognize the person or that I only know superficial information about the person.

What is the difference between knowing and KNOWING?

It’s the difference between intellect and intimacy. Those few people I truly know are the people I have an intimate relationship with—the ones I spend time with, interact with and invest my time and myself in getting to KNOW.

That is the knowing Jesus is praying His disciples would continue to experience. Later in the prayer Jesus talks about unity—that comes from KNOWING—one does not experience unity on a superficial level.

Make sure you KNOW God. It’s good to know things about Him, certainly that is the beginning of the deeper understanding—don’t be satisfied with that. God wants a deep, intimate relationship with YOU. Jesus wants a deep intimate relationship with YOU.

How does that happen? It happens the same way earthly relationships grow and deepen—through intimacy. Notice Jesus’ words, “…for I have passed on to them the message you gave Me.”   Jesus came to be Emmanuelle—God with us. Jesus, in His parables, sermons, prayers and activities, revealed the Father’s character and will.

KNOW God—It’s Jesus’ prayer for you.

Father, I want to KNOW You. Teach me to pursue the deeper, intimate relationship with You. Don’t let me be satisfied simply knowing things about You. I want to KNOW you.

 

Image courtesy of Bing.com/images

The Path To Glory

suffering2Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said:

Father, it’s time. Display the bright splendor of your Son so the Son in turn may show Your bright splendor. You put Him in charge of everything human so He might give real and eternal life to all in his charge. And this is the real and eternal life: That they know You, the One and only true God, And Jesus Christ, whom You sent.

I glorified you on earth by completing down to the last detail what You assigned me to do. And now, Father, glorify Me with Your very own splendor, the very splendor I had in Your presence before there was a world.

I spelled out your character in detail to the men and women you gave me. They were yours in the first place; then You gave them to Me, and they have now done what You said. They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that everything You gave Me is firsthand from You, for the message You gave Me, I gave them; and they took it, and were convinced that I came from you.

They believed that You sent Me.  John 17:1-8 (MSG)

Have you ever been very sure of a plan? Have you ever watched that plan crumble before your eyes? The disciples’ plans for Jesus and His kingdom were about to disintegrate. I can imagine the interaction between Judas and Jesus confused the disciples. No doubt, brash Peter was still wondering why Jesus said he would betray Him. Perhaps Peter was wondering what he did wrong to make Jesus have such a low opinion of him. I’m sure Jesus’ modification of the Passover meal had the disciples questioning what they had done with the past three years of their lives. Maybe Jesus’ relatives were right and He was crazy.

The disciples are people just like you and me. When things turn out favorably, we think we have pleased God and He in turn, blessed us. When things go wrong, we search for someone or something to blame. We begin to question our choices and convictions. As far as the disciples were concerned, things were about to go terribly wrong.

Jesus spelled out what was about to happen to Him and to His band of friends. I taught school—I know the bewildered disciples nodded their collective heads as Jesus spoke of death and resurrection, of the many rooms in His Father’s house and the grief that would suddenly turn to joy. It’s the clueless nod of those who want to understand, but don’t.

You see, we know what was about to happen. We know about the cross and the resurrection. The disciples didn’t. Scripture doesn’t record the disciples thoughts or plans about Jesus’ ministry but I’m sure none of them fully understood what was about to happen. Even if one or some of them did grasp the fact that Jesus was about to die, none of them would have considered crucifixion as Jesus’ destiny. Even if Christ’s death was something they understood—the hours between watching the friend on whom all their hopes were hung tortured to death, and the morning when the tomb was found empty, were long.

So Jesus prayed.

Jesus’ first request was for His glory to bring glory to the Father. The brutal humiliation of the cross was difficult to bear. Certainly, it was difficult for Jesus. He came to the earth as a human with a human body. A body like yours and mine. He felt thirst and fatigue. Jesus felt the blows of the fists, the stab of the thorns, and the point of the nails. Jesus experienced the separation from the Father, as He became the sacrifice for the world’s sin. Jesus experienced the public humiliation of hanging, naked and beaten on a cross. His death, the sacrifice to atone for the sin of humanity, is THE reason Jesus came to earth. His mission was about to be completed—His suffering would end in glory.

Maybe Jesus needed the reminder of the glory after the suffering. Maybe it was the disciples—the clueless disciples—who needed to understand the inglorious death on the cross was not a mistake or accident. Perhaps Jesus was preparing His friends through His prayer. The shameful death on the cross was Jesus’ path to glory and their way to the Father.

Jesus prayed. He prayed confident in God’s plan. Jesus knew the principle—suffering leads to glory. In modern times this principle has a slogan—no pain, no gain. Glory is never the starting point. Glory is the goal and suffering the path. Suffering for suffering sake is unattractive and pitiful. The notion that God causes suffering because He’s evil or disengaged is hogwash. Suffering is the spiritual exercise the believer engages in to strengthen his or her faith, to grow to spiritual maturity. James stated it this way:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.   For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James 1:2-4 (NLT)

 Jesus begins His prayer impeccably. The cross was not a mistake. It was the showcase of God’s love for humanity. It would change the disciples’ perspective. It would change how they looked at their friend. The cross would change everything for the rest of time. As Jesus begins His prayer, He wanted to make sure He and His friends understood the suffering that was about to occur had a purpose—glorious purpose.

Father, thank You for Your love. Thank You for making a way for me to get to You. Jesus, thank You for your faithfulness to the Father’s plan. Help me be faithful in the face of suffering. Thank You for the cross.

Image courtesy of Bing.com/images

Jesus Prays

jesus praysAfter saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him.  And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.  I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.  Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.

“I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me. John 17:1-8 (NLT)

My mom used to pray, “Help Rachel be a good girl. Help her listen to her mother and obey.”   Yes, I was within earshot—my mom was praying with me at bedtime. Passive aggressive—sure—but she got her point across. I don’t remember the exact thoughts that went through my head, but I’m sure it was something like, “Great! Now God knows I don’t listen to my mom.”

Sometimes mom’s prayers were as much for my ears as they were for God’s ears. Have you ever prayed yourself a “pep-talk” prayer? Have you spoken words to God that you needed to hear aloud as a reaffirmation of the truth? Maybe this is what Jesus is doing for His friends.

This week we are going to look at Jesus’ prayer for His disciples.  To fully understand this prayer let’s recap the details surrounding it. The scene begins back in John 13. At the beginning of the Passover celebration, Jesus washes the feet of the disciples—so the evening was off to an odd start—the leader doesn’t usually wash the feet of the followers—unless the leader is a servant. If that was not awkward enough, Jesus goes on to tell His close friends He’s going to die after being betrayed by one of them.

In John 14 Jesus tells His friends not to worry, they know where He’s going and how to get there. Layer on two more awkward moments as Thomas and Phillip speak for the group and essentially say no one has any idea what Jesus is talking about. After a sigh, and an indicting, rhetorical question, Jesus tells His friends, I am the way, and the truth and the life—to see me is to see the Father.

Jesus continues talking in John 15 giving them another analogy—be a branch, stay connected to the vine and you’ll be fine. Jesus gives them one last bit of advice, love each other because the world is going to hate you (that’s my paraphrase). Jesus offers one last bit of hope as He tells His friends that after He leaves, the Holy Spirit will give them power—don’t be discouraged—I (Jesus) have overcome the world.

WOW! That’s a heavy load. You may read those chapters over the course of a few days, but this was one evening with Jesus and His friends. I’m sure Jesus’ words frightened and confused the disciples. Certainly they were not expecting the upcoming event—Jesus’ crucifixion.

Chapter 17 begins, “After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said…”

Curious.  Jesus follows all of His disturbing, closing remarks to the disciples by praying aloud.

Imagine for a moment what it would be like having Jesus pray for you, or pray over you. That is what He does today. Jesus intercedes for us at the Father’s throne. These eleven men listened to Jesus pray for them and for you and me. What a privilege!

What a touching moment. What a wonderful Savior, in tune with the weakness, fear and insecurity His friends were feeling and about to face.   This prayer is as much an act of love as it is petition.  Jesus prayed for His disciples.

Although you and I don’t get to hear it—Jesus is still praying for His disciples today.

Father, You for your love. What a wonderful demonstration of compassion as Jesus offered a prayer for His frightened and confused friends. May this serve as a reminder that Jesus not only prayed for me 2,000 years ago, but pleads for me today at Your throne. What a blessed gift. What an act of love.

Image courtesy of Bing.com/images

Every Chance You Get!

ear Sometimes life doesn’t make sense—pray. Prayer is the open invitation to bring your problems, concerns, anxieties, fears, failures, praise, joy and worship directly to God. What a grand privilege! Take advantage of it every chance you get!

Here are the links if you missed a post on prayer this past week.

Can I ask for your help?  When you are finished reading the devotional you choose today, would you share it using one of the buttons you’ll see below—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Pintrest, or Google+?

Believe it or not, that simple act makes this devotional site more visible to people searching for a devotional site on the Internet.

Christmas is right around the corner! You can purchase a devotional book to give as a gift! There are 2 to choose from:

Finding the Holy in a Mundane World—A 30 day devotional

The Books We Never Read—A 3 month tour though the Old Testament

Both are available from Amazon.com. Simply Type in the name of the book you’re interested in purchasing in the SEARCH field.

Now, if you can, go to church today! I’ll see you back here tomorrow!

Why?

whyHow long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! Habakkuk 1:2 (NLT)

What happens when God answers YOUR prayer HIS way? It’s tough not to ask, “Why are You doing this?” It’s difficult to wade through pain, hardship and suffering.

So why does God allow suffering, injustice and violence if He’s good, loving and powerful enough to stop the suffering? If you are a believer, you’ve likely had hurt-filled eyes staring back at you asking that question. Perhaps it was the face in the mirror asking the question. It’s a difficult question to answer. Why would a loving God remain silent, or worse, allow evil to thrive?

Tour through the Bible with me and let’s find an answer.

Joseph, beloved by his father, despised by his brothers, sold into slavery, locked in prison unjustly, became the ruler of Egypt and saved his family and his people; the children of Israel. Esther, an orphan living with her uncle, became part of the pagan king’s harem and finally the queen who saved her people from annihilation. Daniel a slave in captivity who only desire was to honor his God, was thrown to the lions in an effort to shut him up. Later Daniel became an honored servant with the king’s ear. Jesus, the Son of God came to earth, born in human flesh to live, suffer and die a criminal’s death, then be raised from the dead and is at God’s right hand.

Do you see the pattern; it’s suffering then glory? The thread running through scripture is—suffering leads to glory. There is no glory without suffering.   There is no suffering at the hand of God, simply for suffering’s sake. God is trying to work something out in the life of the believer. God is trying to work out His sovereign purpose.

Recently, at a women’s retreat I watched a Beth Moore video series. In one episode, she said something that stuck in my head. It was something like this; None of you would read the book you’re asking God to write of your life. It would be too boring!   Her point was, we all try to avoid suffering. In avoiding the deep, mysterious, seemingly incongruous aspects of God, we are asking for shallow, hallow lives.

So the question the believer must answer is; if God is not simply a sadist (and He’s not), what is the purpose of evil that leads to suffering? Is it to develop character and confident hope in the God who loves you? Is it to deepen your faith in a God who longs to lead you to maturity? Is it to point you toward your need of a Savior? Is it to be a witness to the non-believer of God’s great love and compassion or a helper to others who suffer?

I don’t pray for suffering, injustice, violence. I try my best to avoid suffering whenever I can.   I’m sure you do, too. Since Jesus essentially promised us trouble, perhaps it’s best to let trouble and suffering accomplish its purpose.

This is a trustworthy saying:  If we die with him, we will also live with him.  If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful,     for he cannot deny who he is. 2 Timothy 2:11-13 (NLT)

 

Image courtesy of Bing.com/images

You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet…

surpriseGod’s reply to Habakkuk’s Prayer

“Look around at the godless nations. Look long and hard. Brace yourself for a shock. Something’s about to take place and you’re going to find it hard to believe. I’m about to raise up Babylonians to punish you, Babylonians, fierce and ferocious— World-conquering Babylon, grabbing up nations right and left, A dreadful and terrible people, making up its own rules as it goes. Their horses run like the wind, attack like bloodthirsty wolves. A stampede of galloping horses thunders out of nowhere. They descend like vultures circling in on carrion. They’re out to kill. Death is on their minds.  They collect victims like squirrels gathering nuts. They mock kings, poke fun at generals, spit on forts, and leave them in the dust. They’ll all be blown away by the wind. Brazen in sin, they call strength their god.” Habakkuk 1:5-11 (MSG)

Poor Habakkuk; he pours his heart out about the evil and injustice he witnesses and look at God’s response. God’s response is, “If you think this is bad, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

Has that ever happened to you? Have you prayed your plan to God concerning your job, your family life, your financial situation and then had the exact opposite occur? Instead of things getting “better” your job gets worse, or disappears, your relationship become more strained, or your finances dwindle.

How, as a Christian, do you “defend” your loving, caring, powerful God to your non-believing friends when it looks like He’s playing a cruel joke on His children? How do your reconcile your own notion of God when He doesn’t rubber-stamp your prayers. What is your attitude when, after a great deal of planning and scheming, you present your prayer to God and He, in His sovereign right, rejects your plan and does the opposite?

I’ve been there. I’m a planner. I’m skilled at anticipating all the contingencies that would hinder my plans. I have done God many favors. I provided God plans concerning how He should change my first husband; the plan included Ron’s physical and emotional healing. I gave God all the instructions and action steps He needed; it wasn’t that complicated. What happened? Ron’s health, physical and emotional, spiraled down. Ron died. God did not follow the path in the way I planned. For quite some time after he died, I felt like Ron’s death was God’s failure.

Little did I know.

Superficially, God’s ways seems mysterious. Certainly to the non-believer, but sometimes God’s own children don’t understand His actions.   What is one to do then? How do you share the “Good News” of a loving God, when it seems like mediocre news, or worse, bad news?

Come back tomorrow. We’ll look at a principle that runs from Genesis through the New Testament. You’ll find encouragement.

Father, teach me to rest in Your sovereign plan for my life. Help me to understand Your plan, although sometimes mysterious, is far better for me than anything I could hope for or imagine.   Thank you for your love and care!

Image courtesy of Bing.com/images

An Excited Prayer

freedom1All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.  So, we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered His kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill His own good pleasure.  And this is the plan: At the right time He will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.  Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for He chose us in advance, and He makes everything work out according to His plan.

God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God.  And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom He promised long ago.  The Spirit is God’s guarantee that He will give us the inheritance he promised and that He has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

Ephesians 1:3-14 (NLT)

 

After the surgical procedure, while the nurses are taking care of the patient and putting dressings on the surgical wound, the surgeon often dictates his surgical note. One of the surgeons I frequently work with tries to dictate his entire note with one breath. His dictation is a mumbled, slurry of words with no pauses and no breaths.

As I read Ephesians 1 today, I thought about that surgeon’s dictation.   Translators kindly added punctuation. Paul’s original prayer was one big, long, gushing run-on sentence. When I read Paul’s writing I sometime become breathless. I don’t know what your mind’s eye sees as you read passages like this. I imagine Paul’s quill barely able to keep up with his thoughts. I see Paul excited as the Holy Spirit reveals the truth and grandeur of God’s love and grace to a man who once tried to eliminate the spread of the very words he was now writing.

Paul wrote this letter to people living in the cosmopolitan city of Ephesus. Paul wrote to persecuted Christians—believers who lived in a city rampant with pagan religions. Paul wrote to a group of new Christians who lived in the cultural swell where east met west and no ideology was discounted.

Paul’s prayer is grand, indeed. The words of this prayer serve to draw attention to God’s magnificent splendor—to elevate God above the riff-raff of other gods and the Ephesians’ culture.   Paul, via the Holy Spirit’s revelation, lets us all in on a secret—God has a glorious plan.

These words are as relevant today as they were when Paul’s ink was still wet on the scroll. In spite of the hardship you face, in defiance of the culture you must endure, regardless of the circumstances in which you find yourself; God has a glorious plan—laced with mercy, grace and kindness. This prayer is for you!

Paul’s bold writing catches your attention to refocus your thoughts on The One who rules the universe—The One who included YOU in His plan.

Father, Thank You for this reminder. When I am bogged down in the events of life, remind me, I am a participant in Your glorious plan. Thank You for Your kindness, mercy, grace and wisdom. I will refocus my attention on You today.

Image courtesy of Bing.com/images

The Act of Dependence

BBY OZZYPray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Colossians 4:2 (MSG)

~~~~~

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)

~~~~~

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (MSG)

~~~~~

As I started typing about prayer, Ozzy was competing with the keyboard for my attention. As I paused, I realized once again, God has a lesson covered in white fur sitting here next to me.

I could write about prayers I’ve prayed that God answered quickly. I’ve prayed prayers that God would help me find my keys or find a surgical instrument in the storeroom—those are the prayers that God answered all tied up with a bow—just the way I asked. There are some other prayers I’ve prayed that took a while to get an answer; some of the answers I got didn’t turn out the way I planned. I could write about other prayers that I’m still praying even many years after the original prayer was uttered.

Today, as Ozzy pawed my arm to get my attention I thought about reason believers are told to pray; pray diligently, pray instead of worry, pray all the time.

In my office, I have a footstool sitting to my office chair. It’s there so Ozzy can sit next to me as I study and type. He likes being close to me. I have to think, one reason is that I like him (a lot). I think the other reason is—I meet all of his needs.

It’s good for him to stay close to me. I refill his food and water dish. I fetch his toys when they slide out of reach, under the bookshelf. I make sure his paws are trimmed and his fur is clean. He’s got it made because of me.

Aside from simply meeting his needs, I do love this little mutt. Some of what he gets from me is snuggling and ear rubbing. That is nothing more than affection. Nothing he does or doesn’t do changes the bedtime routine of a good ear rub.

I looked over at my little dog as he looked up at me; successful in his distraction. Ozzy’s comfortably dependant life caused a twinge of guilt in my heart. I’m not sure what Ozzy thinks about, but I’m sure it’s not how he can meet his own needs. I doubt he has ever spent any time lying on the guest bed wondering how he was going to get the food bin open the next time he is hungry. He has not lost a minute of sleep wondering if he’ll ever see his favorite ball again.   He has never tried to take the nail clippers and cut his own toenails in an act of defiant desperation.

Ozzy is ok with being dependant.

That’s what prayer is, an act of dependence.

Do you notice how dependence, gratitude and peace coordinate in today’s verses? God doesn’t tell us to fret and work up a plan to bring to Him for His approval or denial. He simply says, “Pray about everything.” God doesn’t tell us to do what we’re able to do and then pray about the rest. God knows there is no part we can do without Him, so He says, “Pray about everything.” God doesn’t tell us to make the best out of some miserable life, He says “Pray about everything.”

The believer has an opportunity. As a believer, you have the ear of the maker of the universe. He’s pleading with you, “Talk to me.” Don’t miss out on that. It’s more than turning over your wish list, it’s turning over your self-dependence to the one who loves you more than you love yourself.

Be dependent.

Pray. Pray diligently. Pray instead of worry. Pray all the time.